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How to Start a Gift Basket Service

Operations

The flexibility of a gift basket business gives you a lot of choices in where to locate your operation and how to get it set up. You can opt for a retail store, a warehouse location, or to work from home. Regardless of your location, you can sell face to face, via mail order or on the internet--or use a combination of these methods.

Though industry surveys indicate that more than half of all gift basket businesses have retail locations, the locations of basketeers who participated in the research for this book showed just the opposite--more than half of them are homebased. Solid research is limited, but anecdotal evidence suggests an abundance of successful homebased gift basket operations.

Because of the room required to store inventory and assemble baskets, homebased gift basket businesses will find their growth limited by the available space. Whether or not this is a problem for you depends on your own personal goals. If you're looking to create a sizable company with several employees and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in sales, you'll need a commercial location. But if your goal is a small business that generates a comfortable income for you, being homebased may be the ideal situation.

Inventory

Your initial inventory should be focused on baskets and other containers and the items that will go in them. As your business grows, you can expand your inventory to include other specialty gifts, such as local arts and crafts, personalized linen, jewelry and so on. You may find suppliers through various trade publications and may even find them listed in your local Yellow Pages under "wholesalers."

Your inventory will consist of items you buy at both wholesale and retail prices. Wholesale purchases will include items and supplies you use in large quantities for your most popular basket arrangements and as filler items. Retail purchases will typically consist of the merchandise you accumulate when you go shopping for customized basket materials.

For a gift basket business, shopping is a major behind-the-scenes activity. Depending on your volume, expect shopping and ordering to take anywhere from one to four hours a day on average.

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